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Nancy Wake

Nancy Wake, a prominent figure in the French Resistance was born in Wellington, New Zealand but grew up in Sydney, Australia. Nancy ran away from home at the age of 16 and found work as a nurse, but a windfall enabled her to leave Australia for Europe in 1932. Wake settled in Paris, working for the Hearst group of newspapers as a journalist.
In November 1939 she married Henri Fiocca, a wealthy industrialist, in Marseilles. Six months later Germany invaded France. Wake and Fiocca joined the fledgling Resistance after France's surrender in 1940. Her growing involvement in the Resistance saw Wake and her husband assisting in the escape of Allied servicemen and Jewish refugees from France into neutral Spain. Fearful of being captured she too fled Marseilles and, after several thwarted attempts and a brief period in prison, Wake escaped across the Pyrenees.
In June 1943 she reached England where she began working in the French Section of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). After a period of training, Wake returned to France in April 1944 to help organise the Resistance before D-Day. Working in the Auvergne region, Wake was engaged in organising parachute drops of arms and equipment, and after D-Day, was involved in combat with German troops sent to destroy the Maquis. As her presence became known to the Germans she was nicknamed the "White Mouse'. Upon liberation, Wake learned that her husband, Henri, had been killed by the Germans in August 1943. In September 1944 she left the Resistance and went to SOE Headquarters in Paris, and then to London in mid-October.
Nancy was honored with the George Medal, 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, British War Medal 1939-45, French Officer of the Legion of Honour, French Croix de Guerre with Star and two Palms, US Medal for Freedom with Palm and French Medaille de la Resistance for her courageous endeavours. Wake's medals are on display in the Second World War gallery at the Australian War Memorial. Nancy passed away in August of 2011 at the age of 98. Lest We Forget.

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